Austin based writer Melissa Massello and founder and curator of The Distillery Market, Catelyn Silapachai jointly came up with a wonderful idea to help pups get adopted. It consists of going to your local Animal Shelter, in this case Austin Animal Center, and taking one dog out for a one hour walk.
Taking a shelter dog out for a walk greatly increases their chances for getting adopted by the next person that comes along.
It’s not only a great way for them to get their daily exercise, but it also gives them the opportunity to be in consistent contact with a person. It teaches them how to respond to caretakers and prepares them for their next engagement.
Here’s how it works:
- Head to your local shelter and ask if they allow for volunteers to walk dogs and have designated walking areas. Here's a compiled list of programs available in the US.
- Each shelter should have color codes and a white board for dogs that need to be walked, have health or behavior issues, need extra training or supervision, or simply cannot be taken out of their kennel. Make sure to go through the list and select the dog that hasn’t been taken out for a walk yet that day.
- When taking the pup out, we like introducing ourselves by crouching down and letting them sniff the back of our hand first. Have a leash ready and head in by slightly opening the kennel door and squeezing through.
- Some shelters have specialized play pens where you can let them run off leash. Always keep a distance (about 10 ft.) from any other dogs that may be around the same area.
- Let them sniff around and play for a while. Some pups are just looking for some love and may stay close to you to ask for petting. Give them some time to go to the bathroom and if they go number 2, help by cleaning up after.
- Saying goodbye is the hardest part. Some pups may show resistance to going back to their kennels. A reassuring pet, or a treat in their kennel is a great way to get them to go back in. Don’t forget to write down the time you took the pup out for a walk on the whiteboard and any noteworthy information on the dog’s behavior.
The entire process should not take you longer than one hour. We were actually quite surprised to see how easy it was! We’re now making it into an official SUAVS weekly hang. Every Friday after work, we’ll be heading over to Austin Animal Center to visit our furry friends. Hope to see you there!
To learn more about volunteering at Austin Animal Center visit http://www.austintexas.gov/department/volunteer
Photo Cred: Chelsea Laine Francis